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Owl Babies
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New to board book format is Martin Waddell's Owl Babies, in which three worried owlets wait for their mother to return from her night flight. Patrick Benson's disarming cross-hatched pictures of fluffy, wide-eyed owl babies, and the use of light colored text against a black background, turn this sweet story into a hauntingly lovely little book. (Candlewick, $6.99 22p ages 18 mos.-2 yrs. ISBN 1-56402-965-4, Oct.)

PreS-- This simple story pales in comparison to the exceptionally well-crafted illustrations. Rendered in black ink and watercolor with an abundance of crosshatching used to show background, shadow, texture, and depth, each stunning woodcutlike panorama fills a double-page spread. Benson has chosen shades of turquoise, pale yellow, and light green for the large-type text in order to avoid detracting from the blue-and-green dominated paintings. Realistic as they appear, the three, fluffy, white baby owls and their mother are infused with distinct personalities. The owlets awaken one night to find their mother gone. Sarah, the largest, reasons that she is out hunting for food. Mid-sized Percy tends to agree, while tiny Bill will only repeat, ``I want my mommy!'' Mom, just out for a night flight, does return, of course, and her fledglings are delighted to see her. The repetition just doesn't work. The plot is too meager, the text too unexciting. Hutchins's Good Night Owl (Macmillan, 1991), Thaler's Owly (HarperCollins, 1982), and Yolen's Owl Moon (Philomel, 1987) are all better stories for preschoolers. Simple, well-written books about mother love and reassurance for this age group are abundant. --Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

This story will strike a familiar chord in every small child who has been afraid when left by [a] parent, and parents will perhaps gain a new understanding of how a small child might feel . . . A wonderful 'read to me' book for nap time, story time, or bedtime.
--Booklist

Benson's soft, wide-eyed birds--rendered in delicate pen strokes touched with gentle color that makes the dramatic, dark night seem appropriately awesome--are perfect stand-ins for wise little toddlers who also know Mom will turn up--but still can't help wondering.
--Kirkus Reviews Enchanting...illustrations of the softly colored baby owls set against a black night will captivate preschool listeners.
--Modesto Bee Featured in "50 of the Best Kids' Books Published in the Last 25 Years"
--The Huffington Post

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